In February of this year, Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ gave its support to an exciting new initiative: The NZAU Open Research conference. Over two days, the conference discussed the possibilities–and practicalities–of opening up Australasian research, including the use of open licensing to enable research to be shared and reused beyond the (mostly) closed academic system.
At present, the public, including non-academics with advanced degrees, cannot freely access the research they fund. While it is widely accepted that this has to change, the New Zealand and Australian research sectors have lacked a concise articulation of why Australasian researchers and research funding bodies should support OA.
With this in mind, the NZAU Open Research organising committee got together on the Friday after the conference and came up with a series of principles and recommendations for open research in New Zealand, which came to be known as the Tasman Declaration. One of the Declaration’s basic principles is that “research outputs should be made available with as few restrictions as possible and as soon as possible.”
We fully agree. CCANZ supports the move towards open access and open licensing for publicly funded research. While, as last year’s Finch Report acknowledged, the move to open access will not be free, the costs of open access publishing are small next to the social, cultural and economic benefits of making publicly funded research available for all.
As the NZAU Open Research team point out, there are also benefits for researchers themselves: not only will their research be more widely read by the people who fund it–i.e. the public–but they will be much less likely to waste time duplicating the research of others.
And finally, let us not forget the universities themselves: NZAU Open Research cite a talk from Michael Eisin, which points out that, “Every year universities, governments and other organizations spend in excess of $10 billion dollars to buy back access to papers their researchers gave to journals for free.”
The Tasman Declaration follows recent moves towards open access and open licensing in the UK and USA. It is the latest in a series of regional declarations–including the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Berlin Declaration–that argue that, as the Berlin Declaration puts it,
The Internet has fundamentally changed the practical and economic realities of distributing scientific knowledge and cultural heritage. For the first time ever, the Internet now offers the chance to constitute a global and interactive representation of human knowledge, including cultural heritage and the guarantee of worldwide access.
As some of you might have already noted, this vision is precisely that of Creative Commons: to realise “the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.”
Open access to scholarly research, including open licensing, is a significant part of this potential. You can read the story behind the Tasman Declaration here. The Declaration itself is here, and if you agree with its recommendations, sign it here.
If you’re interested in reading more about open access and open licensing here in New Zealand, check out our series of posts for Open Access Week 2012.
[The header image is credited to the Open Knowledge Foundation and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence.]